by Laura Sidsworth
Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Chieko (sounds like Che-Ko) Delgado moved to Sanger in 1999. She brought with her to the small valley town a big love for all things artistic, and Sanger gives her endless inspiration: Sierras as its backdrop, peaceful pastures, farmland, and colorful blossoms make for her favorite subjects of landscapes and florals.
I recently caught up with her at Ampersand, a Fresno ice cream shop, hosting a Thursday night Art Hop event. The only artist on display there that night, Chieko had brought with her a variety of her work: giclées (high-end reproductions created in such a way as to be nearly indistinguishable from the original paintings), a file full of smaller art prints, stationary, mugs, a tray of unique jewelry, and hand-painted silk scarves. The latter, she told me, are painted with a special paint and hand-pressed to set the color. The scarf is then safely washable and beautifully wearable. Her rings, fashioned out of copper, have unique settings of freshwater pearl, tiger eye, bamboo coral (something I had never heard of), and mangazite.
Chieko began sketching and painting when she was young, so it seems only natural that she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts from Joshibi University of Art and Design in Tokyo. She mostly worked in oils then, but when she became a mom to daughters Saira and Aria, she found working with watercolors was the easiest to clean up after painting sessions.
Continuing her art education, Chieko enrolled in a Clovis Adult school watercolor class, meeting her favorite art teacher ever, Kay Owens. It was there also that a soon-to-be-friend, Kathleen Mattox, heard about Chieko’s talent from the teacher, and when she saw her talent, Kathleen told me, “I was very much in awe of Chieko’s skills!” Kathleen went on to say that the two women, learning they both lived in Sanger, became friends, and then colleagues at the Art Stand Gallery in Minkler and the Circle Gallery in Madera. Says Kathleen, “She is a wonderful artist and I greatly appreciate her friendship!”
Another cool aspect to taking continuing educational courses, Chieko met her husband Jesus of 20 plus years in an English class, despite the fact that she spoke mostly Japanese and Jesus mostly Spanish! The two were able to communicate in the best language of all: the universal language of love and their newly developing English! I wonder if Jesus ever imagined he would meet his future wife in an English class, move with her to Japan when she wanted to be with her ailing father, and living in Japan for seven years before they both returned to California to settle in Sanger.
Asked what inspires her, Chieko responded: “I see/hear/feel whatever moves my heart. I then go into artist mode… I love creating things. I do silk painting/scarves, dichroic glass, all kinds of jewelry (clay, bead work, copper-wired), knitting, sewing, stained-glass, and doll making.”
All I can say is wow!
I asked her what she would recommend to any new/young artist and she referenced a recently released Disney movie, Zootopia. In it is a song she loves and would encourage, “Try everything!” It seems as if Cheiko does and has!She has been commissioned to do cartoons and portraits, providing for several years, cartoons to the Sanger Herald to accompany weekly, mostly political posts. She enters the Clovis Rodeo Art show in April and the Blossom Trail poster contest for the Fresno Fair. She does Santa’s Bag Holiday Boutique in October and lots of other events in between. She and five other colleagues also show and sell their work at the Sanger Art Station downtown, and she is planning, the last two weeks in April, a multi-generational family event, showcasing both of her talented daughters’ work, her own, and her mother’s, who is a talented costume designer having created the girl’s Halloween costumes over the years.
Her paintings I have included here speak for themselves. See for yourself today. Catch her Saturday, March 19, at the Woodward Park Shinzen Japanese Garden show, or visit/find out where she will be locally at:
Sanger Art Station
1533 7th Street, #308
Sanger, California 93657
FB: Chieko Delgado/Art
Check out other local Arts & Entertainment articles in our A & E section.